Road Trip With Your Pet: 8 Tips

Pets play an important role in our lives; emotional support, cuddle buddy, and a fun companion. It can be hard to be away from our pets for a long period of time, which is why people often bring their pets along for the adventure. There are some critical safety tips to keep in mind if you travel with your pet in order to ensure their safety and well-being while on the road. Here are 8 safety tips for road tripping with your pet:

  • Make an appointment with vet before trip.  Make sure all vaccinations are up to date and necessary medicine is on hand. Tranquilizing a pet is generally not recommended because it could interfere with breathing. Consult with a vet for tips to keep your pet relaxed on the road.
  • Get them used to the road. If you’ll be taking a several hour road trip with your dog or cat, it is advisable to get them acclimated to the car and driving on the road beforehand. Start with short drives around the neighborhood, and gradually increase the drive time.
  • Pack a pet-friendly travel kit. Include food, a leash, portable water bowl, plastic baggies, necessary medication, a few favorite toys, and grooming supplies.
  •  Feeding. Always opt for bottled water, as tap water in new areas could result in an upset stomach. Feed your pet a light meal a few hours before departure to aid in digestion.
  • Never leave your pet locked in the car. You should never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle- especially in the heat or freezing cold. Even with the windows open, the trapped heat or cold could cause heatstroke and/or hypothermia.
  •  Invest in a USDA-approved travel carrier. You may want to let your pet roam free to have enough room, but this is more dangerous and can lead to injury. You should secure a dog or cat in a suitable crate that leaves them with enough room. Check out crash-tested and approved crates and harnesses here.
  • Keep pets in the back seat. The backseat is safest for animals because of the possible injury that could occur from the front-seat airbags. If the backseat is full of luggage or already occupied, make sure you turn off the passenger airbags and secure your pet in a crate.
  • Stop every two hours or so. Let them stretch their legs, run around for a bit, and go to the bathroom. These quick breaks are also good times to give your dog some water in order to avoid dehydration.

It is also advisable to get a routine maintenance check of your car before going on a long road trip. Make an appointment with us today!

Safety Tips for Driving In Heavy Rain

Wipers clearing rain, and roads busy with traffic.

Spring has finally arrived- along with an increase in rainy days. Heavy rain may be beneficial to flowers, but it is not the best weather to drive your car in. The roads become slick and visibility can be limited due to rain and fog. Use these tips to ensure a safe trip during heavy rainfall.

  • Slow down! Be sure to drive at or below the speed limit when the roads are slick.
  • Avoid hard braking, turn slowly, and ensure ample distance between the car in front of you.
  • Turn on headlights (but not the brights) In 18 states it is illegal to use your windshield wipers without turning on your headlights during inclement weather. Some of those states include Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, pull over. Sometimes it is best to wait until the rain slows down before you continue your route. You should never drive when stressed out or uncomfortable about your safety.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires have less pressure pushing the car down on the road. You will you have less tire-to-road contact than a properly inflated tire, which increases your risk of hydroplaning.
  • If you find yourself hydroplaning- don’t slam on the brakes. Instead, ease off the gas pedal and use a light pumping method on the brakes.
  • Rain causes humidity. If you need to quickly de-fog your windshield, turn on the A/C to cool down the interior of the car.
  • If you hydroplane, steer in the direction your car is going. This will help your tires realign and gain traction back.

Above all, it is important to remain cautious and calm while driving through heavy rain. Stop in to your local Car-X if you need a headlight or wiper blade replacement, brake repair, or a general inspection of your car.

How To Know If Your Brakes Need To Be Replaced

The brake pads are an essential factor in your braking system. They protect the rotor from damage and distribute heat from friction. Many problems could arise if the brake pads are worn down more than a quarter of an inch. The metal “wear indicators” making friction with the rotor can cause warping or cracking. Without brake pads, the heat from fiction won’t distribute evenly, which could cause the entire braking system to overheat and fail. Replacing the entire braking system will be much more expensive than getting new brake pads. Here are 4 warning signs that you may need new brakes.

Strange noises

Squealing, buzzing, or scraping sounds- Wear indicators are metal tabs near the top of the brake pads. As the brake pad wears down, the indicator will scrape against the rotor. The grating noises sound as an alarm to the driver to replace the brake pads. Neglecting these sounds can result in warped or cracked rotors.

Clicking noise- A holding device and/or clips, bolts, and pins hold the brake pads in place. You may hear a clicking or rattling noise if the brake pad has become loose.

Braking takes longer than it used to

You may begin to feel the brakes’ lack of performance when you’re driving. Be on the lookout for longer stop times or needing to apply more pressure when braking. These are clear warning signs that you’ll need to get your brakes inspected immediately.

Shifting to one side

Sometimes the brake pads wear thinner on one side faster than the other. Your car may pull slightly to the left or right when pressing on the brakes if this occurs. You run the risk of damaging your steering system if this problem is ignored. Other issues, such as uneven tire pressure, can cause uneven shifting of the car. Determine the root cause of uneven stopping by getting an inspection ASAP.

Brake pedal vibrates

A rotor in poor condition will cause the brake pedal to vibrate when stopping. An uneven grasp on the brakes will cause the rotor to become scarred, warped, rusted, or cracked. This will cause a vibration or pulsation while braking.

The braking system is one of the most critical safety features of your vehicle. Issues or concerns about brakes should not be dismissed, as negligence can lead to an accident, expensive fees in repairs, and damage to other systems in your car.

If you’ve noticed any of these issues when braking, visit your local Car-X for an inspection or repair service today: https://www.carx.com/location_search/

Why You Should Avoid Potholes on the Road

The months of December- April are considered pothole season. Potholes are formed in the pavement due to the expansion (freezing) and contraction (thawing) of ground water from rain and snow, and from heavy traffic.

While potholes usually only develop to a depth of a few inches, if they become large enough, they can cause damage to your car’s tires, wheels, suspension, and undercarriage.

How Potholes Affect Your Car

Tires and wheels Potholes typically have rough edges which can compress the tire. The impact could cause tread separation of the tires or even a flat. Running over a deep pothole can scratch the rims or bend and crack the wheels.

Suspension Repeated jolts from potholes accelerate the rate of wear and tear on your steering and suspension system. Your car’s suspension is made to absorb impact but sometimes an unruly pothole can cause damage. Misalignment, broken ball joints, or damaged shocks are all possible outcomes. Look out for any strange noises, vibrations, or pulling in one direction while driving.

Undercarriage Smaller cars are lower to the ground which makes damage to the low-hanging bumpers and sidings more likely. While this damage is mostly cosmetic, it can be a costly repair.

Exhaust pipes Your exhaust pipes are one of the lowest-hanging parts of your car. This makes them a perfect target for potholes. Damage to the exhaust system includes scraping or puncturing of the pipes. You’ll know right away if the exhaust system is damaged from a lot of noise and possibly loss of power. Concerns about the exhaust system should be addressed as soon as possible.

How to Avoid Potholes

Sometimes running over a pothole is unavoidable- they can come up quickly and are sometimes impossible to maneuver around due to surrounding traffic. Swerving or braking quickly can do more harm by causing a collision with other cars on the road.

Your best bet is to slow down while driving and if you must go over a pothole- keep your wheel straight. If there is no surrounding traffic, carefully check your mirrors and maneuver around it.

Avoid flat tires or bent wheels by making sure your tires are properly inflated. Check your vehicle’s proper inflation level on the sticker found in the driver-side doorjamb or owner’s manual. If you notice any loud noises, uneven rolling, or a bulge or dent in your tires, get your vehicle inspected immediately at a local Car-X Tire & Auto.

Air Conditioning: What’s that smell?

Have you been experiencing a mildew like odor when your air conditioning is on? We promise this more than likely is coming from your air conditioning, and not yourself or your passengers. That smell often is deriving from a growth of bacteria in the air conditioning system. Frequently, this occurs in older vehicles or a vehicle that gets seldom use. The bacteria build up can also come from excess moisture, caused by the air conditioning regularly being on the maximum setting.

Don’t worry this is can be fixed. Replacing your air filter will help take care of this issue. Your air filter collects dust, dirt and water and is a perfect place for bacteria to live. Best practice is to replace your air filter every 12,000 – 15,000 miles. If replacing your air filter does not eradicate the odor, your air conditioning evaporator may require a good cleaning as well.

Your local Car-X is here to help, so call or go online to schedule an appointment at https://www.carx.com/request-an-appointment/ and we’ll investigate that pesky smell for you.

Driving in Hazardous Weather

Preparation, practice, staying calm and caution are the keys to staying safe in hazardous driving conditions. Conditions such as snow, heavy rain, or even thick fog often relate to an increase in traffic incidents/crashes. Don’t let this make you think that a little bit of snow or rain doesn’t also call for precautions when driving. Vehicles leave oils and exhaust that can accumulate on roads and a small amount of precipitation can lead to slick and slippery road conditions. Though, there may be times where you cannot protect yourself from every danger on the road you can do your part to minimalize the risk.

Driving in Fog

Fog is more common in the colder months and reduces visibility and gives an incorrect perception of your current driving speed. If you feel at any point that you are unsafe to drive or if visibility is so poor, make the choice to pull over on the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If the weather conditions are bad stay in your car and wait for the fog to dissipate. It is not easy to say how long that will take but it is always best to take the safe route when in dangerous weather while driving.

If you must drive in the fog, here are some tips for you:

  • Use your low beam headlights, whether it is day or night. High beams will reflect light back at you in fog, making it even more difficult to see. Use fog lights if your vehicle has them.
  • Make sure your windshield is clear and use your wipers and defrosters as needed to increase your visibility.
  • Always signal well in advance for turns and brake early when approaching a stop to help others see your vehicle.
  • Keep your windows and lights clean to improve visibility.

Driving on Slick/Slippery Roads

Rain is at times not the only cause for slippery roads, any time water gets on the road it can be dangerous to drive. When the weather is dry the oil from our vehicles builds up on the roads and then when it mixes with fresh rain the road conditions can turn hazardous. Large amounts of rain fall, especially when coupled with freezing cold, also leads to slippery conditions.

Tips for driving on slippery roads:

  • Slow down – there is less friction causing reduced traction. When you completely lose traction that is when hydroplaning can happen, sending your car out of control.
  • Increase space between other cars – with less traction you will need more room to brake.
  • Turn on headlights – increase your car’s visibility to other cars.
  • Don’t use cruise control.
  • Drive in the tracks of the cars in front of you – the path the car in front of you is leaving less water on that part of the road.
  • Check your tires – The tread on your tire helps channel water out the way and helps provide traction. If your tire tread is low, you increase the risk of losing control of your vehicle.

For the colder months the same applies to snow and ice. During winter weather conditions it is important to regularly check your car tires for low tire pressure and tread depth, along with your battery. Extreme cold often leads to a dead battery and that is the last thing you want when out in winter weather. Also, remember to make sure your gas tank always has at least a half tank full during the winter.

Providing Essential Services During the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 has caused a global health crisis. In these uncertain times we must keep in mind that we all have a job to do. For some that job is to stay home or self-isolate and for others that job is to provide an essential service. The Department of Homeland Security has deemed Car-X to be a part of the essential services. We are here to ensure that you have a safe means of transportation. While providing that service, our priority is to make sure that you and our employees stay safe during your visit. Safety protocols have been put in place at all of our locations to do so. We are taking this matter very seriously and ask you to do the same.

It is important for us all to educate ourselves and stay updated on COVID-19. Make sure you are properly washing your hands, sanitizing your store-bought goods, and following other safety protocols. Being overly vigilant is the tactic to take if we want to stop the spread of this virus.

If you find yourself in need of automotive maintenance/repair please call or find us online at https://www.carx.com/request-an-appointment/. We are here to help. Stay safe, stay healthy!

For more information on COVID-19 please go to http://cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Get Summer Road Ready

Are you ready for the Summer?
Summer Road Trip
Let the ASE Certified Techs at Car-X Tire & Auto  make sure your vehicle is safe & road ready!

Get vacation ready w/ the following tips:

Battery– Have your battery checked along with the charging system. Most people feel that the cold is tough on a vehicle’s battery, but it is heat that truly wears a battery out!

Tires– Have your tires checked for wear and have them rotated if needed. Teen-agers really do not enjoy changing tires while on vacation. Swimming and boating is a lot more desirable to them then this activity.

Cooling system– Ensure that your coolant can handle the extra heat you will be asking it to absorb and make sure it is still protecting all the different metals in your engine. Have the belts and hoses checked as well. The number one reason for vehicle break down while on the road is a blown heater hose.

Fluids– Make sure that all critical fluids are full and ready to make the long trip with no problems along the way! This list includes engine oil, transmission fluid, brake and power steering fluid, and also differential fluid. Change any of these fluids that are at the end of their useful life.

A/C– No time is the air conditioning system needed more then during a long road trip with the family all on board the vehicle. Cooler inside temperatures usually mean cooler tempers and a lot more enjoyable road trip. The A/C system should be checked for proper performance including compressor operation along with the cooling fans. You need to ensure that vehicle will be properly cooled when the outside heat is 90 plus degrees. Most newer vehicles are now equipped with a cabin filter and this needs checked yearly especially if anyone in the family suffers from allergies. Lastly, the A/C system should be checked for any small leaks so that the A/C does not quit half-way through your fun filled vacation trip.

How to Maximize Fuel Economy

Improving fuel economy is a matter of changing your driving habits. The benefits range from environmental to personal and financial. Here are some easy and effective tips on maximizing your fuel economy.

  • Drive Conservatively – Rapid acceleration and hard braking can reduce your fuel economy by 15-30% at highway speeds (10-40% in stop and go traffic).
  • Use Cruise Control – Cruise control reduces the fluctuations in speed keeping your car at a consistent pace helping to saving gas.
  • Avoid unnecessary Idling – Between 1 quarter to ½ gallon of fuel per hour is used when idling. Turn off your engine until you’re ready to get on your way, restarting your engine only uses 10 seconds worth of fuel. Only shut off your engine when it is safe to do so.  
  • Practice Proper car Maintenance:
    • Remove any extra items from your car – More weight = more fuel your car needs to use
    • Change your oil regularly
    • Check your tire pressure
    • Check your engine air filter and replace if needed
    • Choose to roll down your windows instead of using AC
    • Regularly track your fuel economy

Extend the Life of your Used Vehicle

As the prices rise for a new car, more people are opting to buy used rather than new. If you are among the population that currently drives a used car, you know how important maintaining you car can be. The below tips will help make your used car last longer.

Drive carefully – This may seem like a no-brainer, but the way your vehicle is driven has a greater impact on its lifespan than nature. By making sure you drive the speed limit and making smooth start and go transitions, you can reduce unnecessary wear on your vehicle, in addition to improving gas mileage.
Follow recommended maintenance schedule – 40% of American drivers delay regularly scheduled maintenance to save money. Unfortunately, putting off these important checkups can eventually lead to costlier transactions. Items such as filter and fluid replacements and fixing minor repairs will help extend your vehicle’s life, as well as help you avoid poor performance or expensive repairs down the road. Simple maintenance items can make a huge difference. For example, changing your vehicle’s air filter when needed helps the engine last longer.
Keep your car clean – Remove dirt and debris from both the inside and outside of your car as often as possible. This prevents your car from aging prematurely. In addition, regularly cleaning often helps spot potential problems earlier, and gives you the opportunity to repair them before they get worse.
Monitor your cooling system – Your car’s cooling system is very important to keeping your engine well cared for. Maintaining the system along with having the right level of coolant can potentially save you thousands of dollars in future repairs.
Check Tire PressureKeep your tires in good shape – Your tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road, therefore, should be properly maintained. Make sure your tires have the right amount of pressure and tread and get them rotated per your owner’s manual. Your tires impact the way your vehicle handles, which in turn impacts the condition of its parts.
Use high mileage motor oil – Two-thirds of vehicles on the road are considered high mileage, and many of them are a quart or more low on motor oil. With older cars, burn-off (the evaporation of oil) is a common occurrence. The problem is magnified when you car has an inadequate amount of oil. When the oil breaks down, it deposits a dirty emission in your engine, which causes it to be less efficient and prone to failure. High mileage motor oil is designed to combat the burn-off, as well as maintain the proper amount of oil. It is recommended for all cars with over 75,000 miles.
Keep accurate maintenance records – Keep a notebook in your car and document all services performed on it. Keep all receipts and documents in a safe place should you ever need to refer to them.
Shelter – If possible, keep your car in a garage or carport of some kind. The sun’s rays can be harmful to your car, and can cause premature aging as with people.
Pay attention to your warranty – If you have a warranty on your used car that is about to expire, there are a number of things you should do before it does. These include repairing damaged or concerning parts, checking for recalls, and getting a comprehensive checkup. You may want to consider an extended warranty, such as a vehicle service contract, which covers vehicle repairs, or a maintenance contract, which covers scheduled maintenance.

Getting ready to buy?
• If you are preparing to buy a car, do your research. Check performance and maintenance ratings on all vehicles you are considering. Sites such as Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds can help you determine the higher rated vehicles, which typically last longer. There is a tool that calculates the True Cost to Own (TCO), which helps show the maintenance and repair costs you can expect for particular vehicles.

A/C Problems? Don’t Sweat it!

air conditioning, A/C not working

For many people, a significant part of summer is embarking on road trips- whether to a neighboring state or (for the hardcore ones) cross-country. While there are many factors that can cause stress to a long drive (such as… the drive), one major concern is the status of your A/C system. If you’re going to be scrunched in a restricted space for more than a few hours, it’s important to be as comfortable as possible. This means having an A/C system that provides a shield from the scorching heat.

There are two main directions your A/C system can stray: reduced air pressure and warmer air temperature. Either of these requires specific attention, and soon in order to keep the cost to a minimum.

The first thing you should check is the warranty from your dealer, as your vehicle might be eligible for a free fix. Otherwise, check in to an auto shop that offers A/C repair services.

It is extremely important to explain in great detail what the problem is. Does the A/C only produce room-temperature air? Is the air failing to reach the back of your vehicle, even on full volume? Good communication can end up saving you money and time.

The solution could be as simple as recharging the A/C system; however, putting off the problem could result in a complete A/C system fail, which will cost much more to fix.

If your vehicle is currently under warranty, consider taking action if it is showing any signs of A/C problems. It is always better to handle the problem early, rather than waiting.

Once your A/C is properly tuned-up, you will be ready to conquer the roads without breaking a sweat on your summer road trip.

How to know your wipers need to be replaced

Most of us pay little attention to our wipers, until we need them the most. The rain is coming down fast and thick and you can’t see 5ft in front of you. You turn on your wipers and you can barely see out better than you could before. Your heart begins to race as you guess how far in front of you that car is and where the road lines are, and that is when accidents happen. Before this occurs, take a look at your wipers from time to time and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they torn, cracked or even broken off in some places?
  • Are your wipers causing streaks or leaving grime after using wiper fluid?
  • Do you hear a chattering sound when using your wipers?
  • Are the wiper frames distorted/bend?

If you answer yes to any of those questions, you need new wiper blades. It is good practice to get ahead of these problems and change your wipers when the seasons change. This is not a costly maintenance, so make the choice to remain safe on the roads and get some new wiper blades. We at Car-X are more than happy to help you replace them if you don’t know how to do it. Call, or go online to www.carx.com to make an appointment today.

Time for Spring Car Cleaning!

spring car cleaningSpring is officially here, and with the season comes time for some Spring Cleaning. Spring Cleaning is not only something for the household or office but your car too. Now that we are all spending more time in our vehicles again, having a clean car can help with a clear and calm head.  Here are some tips to help you with your Spring Car Cleaning:

Inspect your interior
• Take out any unnecessary items. Get rid of that unwanted trash (old receipts, take out bags, empty water bottles).
• Clean the plastic surfaces with a mild spray and cloth and vacuum the remaining surfaces. (For leather surfaces, use a leather cleaner). If you don’t have a vacuum many car washes and gas stations have self service vacuums you can use, some are even free!

Exterior Wash
• It is important to give your vehicle a good hand wash a couple of times a year. Make sure that your car is not in direct sunlight when washing. Use soap specifically for cars, and a hose with a mist-spray nozzle. Wash the fender and bumper areas last. Always blast the underside of the car with the hose to remove buildup. Dry the vehicle with a drying cloth instead of letting it air dry (to avoid those ugly water drop stains).
• Once your vehicle has been cleaned, look for chips, scratches, and rust. Repair any abrasions with a touch-up kit.
• Wax your car if you want it to shine.  Paste waxes are easier to use than liquid waxes; liquid waxes cleaned the best; and spray waxes were easiest to use and left the fewest stains on plastic parts, but they didn’t last as long as other waxes.

Maintenance checks
Windshield wipers – Check your wipers; if they leave streaks, miss areas or if they are ripped, it’s time for new ones. Most blades typically last 6 months, but you can extend the life by wiping them with cloth and glass cleaner.
Tires – Check the tread on your tires and make sure they are properly inflated. The penny trick is and easy way to check tread depth!
Under the hood – Clean engine parts carefully with soap and water, being careful around electrical connections. If you find encrustation on the battery, clean it with water and baking soda.
Headlights – At around the five-year mark, many headlights become ineffective due to cloudy or yellow lenses. This can be dangerous and should be addressed. Headlight restoration kits can be found at hardware stores or online for less than $20.
Locks and hinges – Use lubricant on your locks and hinges. Check your owner’s manual, as some recommend graphite lubricant on your locks.

If your busy schedule doesn’t leave you time to get this all done in one go, break it up into small increments. Take it one step at a time to get the job done.

Spring Cleaning & Maintenance

spring car maintenance

Wash winter’s grit & road salt away and enjoy the Spring weather in your clean ride!

Spring cleaning checklist:

Undercarriage flush – With the onset of spring, all car owners should have their car’s undercarriage flushed.

De-grunge – To remove grunge you need to wash your car with a strong detergent; most car wash solutions do not have the strength to cut through the dirt. Try a solution of 1 ounce of dish-washing detergent to 3 gallons of cool water to wash your car.

Clean and Seal – If your car’s paint feels rough, you need a cleaner. If your paint has scuffs and scratches, you need a heavier polish.

Treat – If your car has a leather or vinyl interior, it needs to be treated before the onset of summer’s heat.

Dashboard Shine the dashboard with a clean fabric softener sheet. The anti-static elements will help repel dust from the dashboard.

Chrome & Windows – To clean chrome & glass, sprinkle Baking Soda on a damp rag, scrub, & rinse clean.

Hubcaps – To clean dirt & grime from hubcaps, spray with Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. Let sit for 15 seconds and rinse clean.